It is clear that the left-libertarians have lost in their campaign to demonize the word “capitalism.” Nice try, fellas, but you lost. Libertarians are not buying your strained arguments and pointless attempt to fight semantic battles. Capitalism as a word just means private ownership of the means of production. I point you to a dictionary. This is obviously compatible with libertarianism, and arguably an essential part of the economy of an advanced libertarian society. Crony capitalism and corporatism are unlibertarian, but laissez-faire capitalism is not. The origin of the term may be interesting but does not change what meaning it has now. There is nothing wrong with using capitalism to describe a key aspect of a libertarian social order, as long as one is clear to distinguish it from crony-capitalism. See: Capitalism, Socialism, and Libertarianism; Rothbard: “True anarchism will be capitalism, and true capitalism will be anarchism”; Reply to Left-Libertarians on “Capitalism”; Left-Libertarians Admit Opposition to “Capitalism” is Substantive.
And it is not we libertarians who have things to learn from the left: rather the opposite is true. We non-prefix libertarians are not left, but we are also not right, and it’s wrong of left-libertarians to accuse us of being “right” merely because we reject the equally confused and false doctrines of the left. We already know that crony capitalism is wrong. Furthermore, we are aware of the fact that state intervention has distorted the market. We also do not just rubber stamp and endorse current land holdings out of some fetish for the status quo; non-prefix libertarians believe that if someone can show a better claim to a given piece of property than the current legal owner, he should prevail. But unless and until this occurs, the current legal owner, so long as he is private, has a better claim to the property than anyone else and should be its owner (property held by the state should be taken from it, of course).
Go capitalism, go! Here is some recommended recent pro-capitalist libertarian reading:
- Peter Klein’s new book The Capitalist and the Entrepreneur: Essays on Organizations and Markets
- Thank Goodness for Capitalism, by Jonathan M. Finegold Catalan, Mises Daily (Tuesday, May 11, 2010)
- Crony Capitalism Is NOT Capitalism, Dominick T. Armentano, Independent.org (May 10, 2010)